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The Secret Art of Poisoning: The True Crimes of Martha Needle, the Richmond Poisoner

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3.81  ·  Rating details ·  16 ratings  ·  9 reviews
How did a serial killer from the 19th century almost get away with murder?

At the end of the 19th century, Martha Needle became known as ‘The Black Widow’ of the Richmond poisoning case after secretly poisoning her husband and children.
The Black Widow was a media sensation in her day, as infamous as Ned Kelly (even sharing the same lawyer). After poisoning her husband and
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Paperback, POD, 226 pages
Published February 13th 2019 by Samantha Battams
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Narrelle
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I first moved to Melbourne in the late 1990s, I lived in Richmond. At some point during my five years there, before I moved to the city, I learned about Martha Needle, the woman who lived on Bridge Road in the 1890s and poisoned her husband, three children and the brother of her fiance.
That's as much as I knew, but that little conjured an image of a sly, vicious woman, disposing of unwanted encumbrances to get her own way and maybe a spot of insurance money.

As with all true stories,
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Jess
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyable read! A great insight into the social and economic struggles of the time told through the life experiences of Martha Needle. I particularly enjoyed reading the actual transcript of the trial and the characters surrounding it.
David Kilner
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Samantha Battams
The Secret Art of Poisoning

The nineteenth century is often characterised as the Age of Steam; it was also the Age of Poison, with substances such as arsenic, cyanide and strychnine readily available to aspiring murderers.

The Secret Art of Poisoning illustrates the case of arsenic poisoning by relating the story of Martha Needle, the Richmond Poisoner.

Samantha Battams has written an engrossing account of the Needle case and set it moreover in the context of a time when vulnerable
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Lyn Parsons
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Frank Review
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
The story of Martha Needle has been researched and told many times. Brian Williams did exactly this in his book published in 2018 and Martha's crimes have featured on numerous occasions in newspapers in recent years.

As one would expect from an academic, Dr Battams has also thoroughly researched Martha's story and set it against a well-written backdrop describing the impact of social and economic conditions of the time. The use of Rough on Rats (well-known as a poison of choice) is examined in
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Moira Were
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A meticulously researched book which covers all the facts, details and circumstances of Martha Needle and her crimes. The economic, social and historical context is woven throughout to give the story depth and bring the characters and the locations to life. So many of the issues that faced women like Martha and children of her time remain - child protection, quality of evidence, poverty, mental health, alcohol and substance abuse. This true crime story is more than an historical narrative.
Claire Page
Aug 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Could have done with better editing as there are lots of little errors throughout. However the story was very interesting and I found the Epilogue particularly good in the way it compared and contrasted the events of the 1890s with contemporary issues.
Ruth Hosford
Jun 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Very well researched. It wasn’t a style of writing I found comfortable reading. I also had an issue with the author using the incorrect past tense for hang, and although it only occurred a few times, it jarred badly.it was a very informative read, but a tad too long winded for me.
Beks
Poorly edited, and the past tense of "to hang" as a method of dispatching life is "hanged!"

Otherwise an interesting story about an Australian criminal figure
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Samantha Battams is a writer of non-fiction historical books/biographies based on Australian history. Her first book is a true-crime tale from the 19th century on a serial murderess: The Secret Art of Poisoning: the True Crimes of Martha Needle, the Richmond Poisoner (self-published in February 2019).
Her second book was written with co-author Les Parsons and is on a pioneer aviator from WW1: The
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